Private campgrounds and RV resorts are collectively moving ahead with plans to spend millions of dollars in capital improvement projects this year, despite the recession, according to private park operators and industry officials.
“The recession is temporary, and most campground and RV resort operators believe that it behooves them to move forward with their improvement plans if they want to remain competitive with other travel and tourism options,” said Linda Profaizer, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
As a result, she stated in a news release, many private park operators are investing in new facilities and amenities this year, which include everything from cabins and yurts to miniature golf courses, skate parks and waterslides.
The push by private park operators to improve their facilities has been going on for many years. In fact, three-quarters of private park owners made an average of $147,508 in improvements to their parks in 2007, according to a national survey by the Arizona Hospitality Research & Resource Center at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Profaizer cautioned that not every park is investing in capital improvements this year, and some may hold until later this year until they get a better sense of where the economy is heading.
Some resort chains are also upgrading facilities, including Chicago-based Equity LifeStyle Properties which spent more than $13 million in improvements to its 170 RV resorts last year.
“We expect to continue to demonstrate to our customers that we care about our properties by investing in them,” said Ellen Kelleher, ELS’s executive vice president of property management, adding that ELS will spend millions of dollars again in improvements this year.
After about two years working with the recreational vehicle industry, gaining contacts and experience, Tallahassee, Fla.-based marketing firm Kidd Group decided it was time to form a new division.
Kidd RV Resort Consulting officially launched in February and will cater to the specific audiences and environment of the RV business, according to Tallahassee.com.
“Our success can be attributed to 30 years of marketing experience amid government initiatives, transportation, real estate, technology, finance and health care, combined with tested and proven principles and excellent customer service to the RV industry,” said Jerry Kidd, president of the Kidd Group.
While RV unit sales may have slowed in some sectors of the business, Kidd account manager Allison Fogt said that hasn’t kept people from hitting the road. Many RV parks are at capacity this winter and spikes in fuel prices have not been a deterrent to travel.
Kidd finds business potential in the RV resorts, the manufacturers and in the associations of RV owners who have an affinity for a certain brand of motorhome or camper. Often, the groups organize their own events and trips.
“Part of our expertise is understanding these audiences,” Fogt said.
RV companies typically market themselves through targeted trade publications and exhibits at trade shows. One such event is this week’s 81st Annual Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) International Convention in Perry, Ga.
Relationship building is important, Fogt added. That includes bringing partners together who can sponsor special promotions or offers.
“We kind of use that leverage to help our clients and creating those marketing opportunities.”